Sudan war spells more disaster for Darfur

STORY: “Destruction and damage.”

That’s how this man in Sudan’s West Darfur state describes the streets of its main city, El Geneina.

When war engulfed Sudan's capital last month, it quickly spread here, reviving memories of the atrocious violence from the early 2000s.

Sudan's health ministry says more than 500 people have been killed in the city of about half a million.

At least 90,000 refugees have fled across the border into Chad.

Witnesses say the city’s markets, power grid and medical facilities have all been razed.

Reuters spoke with a human rights activist in El Geneina earlier this month.

“Attacks against civilians were intense. Women were subject to many violations,” says Enaam Alnour.

She says her brother and other relatives were killed in the violence.

The man who filmed this says his old primary school was being used as a shelter for displaced people…

Until it was burned down.

It's estimated that a quarter of a million in the state have been internally displaced.

"I cannot describe how I feel,” says Alnour. “This is so painful that I cannot cry or do anything about it. I'm staying and waiting for my death at any moment…”

With a communications blackout in place, it's dangerous for aid workers to deploy, according to Mathilde Vu with the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“It is very difficult for us to document anything or even to have an accurate look on the situation in Darfur. Why? Because we haven't been able to work... What goes on in the darkness of this whole silence is terrifying."

Residents link the resurgence of violence in Darfur to the power struggle unfolding in Khartoum between Sudan's army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces… or RSF.

They say it’s allowed "Janjaweed” militias to go unchecked.

They first gained power when the government used them against rebels in the region two decades ago.

More than 300,000 people were killed.

The RSF emerged from the Janjaweed and grew into a large paramilitary force with legal status.

It denies instigating violence in Darfur and blames the army.

An army spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Representatives for the Janjaweed militias could not be reached.